Masks

There’s a lot you can do with wax. 

Layers and layers. 

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Ermattet, Klagend. Opus 110 / demolition

I’m just home, no, not quite “home”. Rather, back from a meeting where the subject was boarding school; and that which lurks behind the smile of survival. There was a picture of school trunks. I am still feeling very sick and shaky. 

Seemed an idea to look again at the work in progress. 

The wisdom of wax and casting of shadow. 

My little mannequins have been dipped, and the mask behind the mask, drenched. 

Indescribable, really.

Earlier the moon and the cathedral were so beautiful, while just yards away the Clarence hotel gaped in sad demolition. 

Sanctuary and dereliction in one and the same place. 


“Ermattet, Klagend”

(Exhausted, weeping)

Beethoven writes as his instruction for the second time round of the arioso dolente in the middle section of opus 110. 

He was almost demolished by despair over his failing health, yet rose in sheer will to blast his way out in the final fugue. 

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Who’s there?

I originally hit on a title for my “journey as art Facebook page and wrote “as a means of connection” among other things. I don’t always want to make a connection within myself. I don’t always feel capable of making a connection with others either. 

Every now and again when bits of me break through, it’s revealing and hard and beautiful all at once and in no reasonable order. 

This is a version of what I sense lay behind my bewildered, disconnected school-child self. 

Actually, it’s how I feel on duvet days too, all these years on.

I like the light touch in the expression “duvet day”. It’s a kind of friendly melancholy with a rueful smile. 

Meanwhile, the boarding school project continues to illuminate tough places. 
Working with clay, with gooey wet fingers, it literally softens the edges. 

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Mind-ful-mess

Painting today. 
God. 

Today has been a day. 

Waking with the familiar void of anxiety and futility.

In perfect synchrony, an article on Facebook (I shouldn’t really be looking at Facebook in bed before I get up) about the vagus nerve and the gut’s reaction to emotion. 

The way the system shuts down when exposed to intolerable pain. 

So that sensations no longer belong and dissociation becomes the norm. 

The disconnect becomes such a familiar coping mechanism that it sinks below consciousness. 
Then, ok, I’m up and rolling because (thankfully) I have a meeting to get me motivated. 
An electric toothbrush jars teeth and tongue out of self pity. 

Both my coffee makers are mouldy. 
“RUDE”!

It’s tea for Katie and me then. 

I’m not very inspired or inspiring. Actually I’m scared. Confronted by the reminder to stay connected. 
Aware of how easy it is to lapse and regress back to easy disconnection. (No pain here, just numbness and a grey blank)

At the very least, this gives me an understanding of addiction. Of rage. Of coldness. Of compulsion. 
We make headway on my website. 

Journey as art. 

What?

I nearly can’t face my art class. 
A place of oasis. 

The dread of calm.

It’s confronting. 

Perhaps I’ll just go to bed. 

I go to art. 

Via a meal-out-cop-out. 

Over the threshold of double-doors apprehension into the warm company of colour, light and loving kindness. Why would I dread this of all things. 
It makes me weep. 

Then the challenge of bringing love, light and warmth gently, slowly, onto my paper. 
Peach blossom. Violet. Veridian. Rose. Neapolitan yellow. Prussian blue. 

The colours of spiritual home. 

The colours that enfold .

Just to manipulate these colours has taken me 20 years. 
Now, rag in hand, I sit and wait while I reconnect with the essence of my picture. The intention. 
To come home. 

To bring my memories home. 

The memories that translated my life in a way that brought creativity alive. 

How could I not be thankful? 

If I can just stay this side of the unknown. 
Wait until the painting suggests itself without my interference. 

I wasn’t really in the mood. 
I wanted to bury myself at home. 

Go to bed. 

But the instant friendship through the door forgot my reticence. 
Somehow, waiting for the painting reaps a little harvest. 
 Tonight’s wine (i’m out again because I want to try to capture today and eating out puts me in a certain frame of mind-less-mess ) takes me closer to writing of it.

 So what?

I got it. 
The colour study floats into soft form. 

A fleeting glimpse of the “vingt regards de l’enfant Jesu”. 

Of little faces going home. 

Of that corridor full of relief. 

I want to cry. 
Meanders through, a curve of spine. 
Vertebrae. 

Facing in, facing out?

Coming? Going?

Them? Us?

We. Ours. Together. 

A community of shared life. 

What did those years add up to?

Then there was no hand at my back. 
Nobody to hold my hand. 

However much they tried. 

Pachulski, Ravel, Schumann, Brahms. 

Practice; the place of safety. 

The dressing gown that wrapped herself around me. 

It’s all very well to know these things. 
(Ramble ramble between the wooze of wine.)

The point is that I have painted my way through survival. 
Played my way out of loss. 

Dared to open doors onto vistas I would not have chosen. 

Here I am. 
Not far short of 60 and life is an astounding discovery. 

When I was 40 I thought I’d be sussed by now. 

What a joke!

(Gullible to the last. )

Can I paint a hand that offers to cherish?
A hand at my back. 
Your back. 

Our back. 

Millibus sittibus 

on the deskanorum

Deskibus collapsibus

Milli on the floorum

The school song suddenly has meaning. 
“Grow old along with me. 
The best is yet to be. 

Potter and clay endure. ”

  

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More Thaw. 

Starting to work on the boarding school exhibition again. Such an amazing, healing process, to pay attention to my old school photograph. 


…. And to experiment with some variations on the metaphors of “facelessness ” 
Complicity. Institutionalism. “Blind spot”

” Masks” “Gagging” “speechless” 


Obliteration. It has brought feelings of guilt, rage and then gradual, gentle resolution. 

Painting little masks on the girls and blindfolds in the staff made me feel like a terrorist. An act of violence. Besides, the ink on the photocopy kept slipping through. The features seemed not to want to be painted out and kept coming back!

To be so caught up in such nastiness feels horrible. It no longer feels relevant or “me” … How I want to be. 
I don’t want to drag the past around with me in a way that breeds anger. 

So, 

Rather than “deface” I have finally been re-facing. Paying attention to every feature of each girl. 

Just the way a collar sits or rides askew tells a story. Multiply by 400!

Touching these faces with my brush feels like a beautiful, healing acknowledgment as I begin to thaw and feel myself a part of something which all those years ago made me feel so alienated. 

I shall probably have to paint all of them now….. Here are the first 130 or so. 


What it is to paint from such a place.

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Tangerine Tree:        Oil Paintings to Browse

Slovakian sleeve embroidery design. 

  
Polish embroidery design.


“How lovely was my valley” Sicily


Bluebell Moor… (below hound tor)


Study in Rose 


“Little Greeks” from a fresco in Sotira monastery, Kotrona.


Ludwig, my friend and muse.


Michaelmas Daisies

  

Dawn. 


Swedish Autumn …Dawn


“Little Jenny at boarding school”

(This points towards another exhibition in February 2018, entitled boarding school survivors)


I can now order prints of any of these paintings.

Post cards, poster size. Greetings cards. Maybe even a lovely calendar?

email me on jennyquicktm@gmail.com and let me know what you’d like.

Tell me in good time and I will do my best to get them to you before Christmas!

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Tangerine Tree exhibition. Little water colours to Browse. 

Camping in a Danish Garden. 


Blüthner in Bjårka Såby


Icon in Bjårka Säby 


Swedish Colour Palette. 


Hostel Szarotka, Malbork, Poland


Rural Poland. Nearing Wotsławek 


Auschwitz: spectacle case


Lenka’s beautiful, sturdy 83 year old grandmother


The water colour version… Slovakian sleeve design. 


Traditional dung and straw stove in Pesci Anna family home


Carpet bag in Budapest ethnographical museum. 


Ragi’s valley. Sicily


Variation I. I loved this view


Variation II


“La Pompa” (Ragi’s kitchen sink)


Talk for the Catania cycling club


Patron, Greek restaurant


“Ecclesia” Exochori, Greece


Painful feet, Proastio. Greece. 


Kardamili. Home of Patrick Leigh-Fermor


Glum Icon in an egg cup. Areopolis. 

(On the west side the icons looked stern. On the east side of the Mani, they were much more smiley)


Things to do in a Mani stone tower house. 


“The flush of beauty round the world forces my soul to seek her depths….”

“Soul verse ” from the calendar of the soul. 

It turned into a magical journey. 


These can be printed and made up into post cards/greeting cards/posters. 

If you’d like to place an order, please email me on jennyquicktm@gmail.com

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